December 21, 2015

To prepare for the jubilee year's theme of forgiveness, a Vancouver parish is completely revamping its confessionals.

"A few months ago, when we were brainstorming how to celebrate the Year of Mercy, we realized the sacrament of confession is a big part," said Father Justin Huang, pastor of St. Anthony of Padua Parish.

"To celebrate Confession, which is such a big part of our lives, we need a visual reminder of God's mercy."

The old confessionals were "dreary, unwelcoming, and very uncomfortable," he said. They resembled small closets, rather than a place for forgiveness.

"You couldn't breathe well inside because there was no ventilation," Huang said.

"The sacrament of Confession should convey something amazing, as it's a celebration of your return to God," said Huang. "It should have a 'wow' effect."

As sacramental people, the physical is a method of communicating with the spiritual, he said. "The confessionals are designed to give you the experience of going into God's heavenly house, warm and inviting."

The renovations started at the beginning of November. Completion was expected to coincide with the opening of the Year of Mercy, but the date of completion was pushed back.

"We're having the blessings of the confessionals on Feb. 12, two days after Ash Wednesday," said Huang.